Gold Cup 2017 – With key players missing, who’s the favorite?

Panama mexico gold cup
(FERMIN LEAL/FUTBOL DAILY)

The 2017 Gold Cup begins this weekend with Team USA and Mexico as clear favorites. Meanwhile Costa Rica and Panama hoping also hope to challenge for the tittle.

With an abundance of other summer tournaments, including the Confederations Cup for Mexico, and World Cup qualifying matches filling the calendar, most of the top teams aren’t taking their best players to the biannual tournament.

That could give teams like Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras and others hope. These teams can also make some noise during the three-week tournament.

Mexico is sending a team of mostly younger players. They’ll fight to make a case for cracking the top team, looking ahead to the World Cup. El Tri’s Gold Cup team won’t include Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Andres Guardado, Carlos Vela and Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos.

Only¬†goalkeepers Jesus Corona and Moises Munoz, Elias Hernandez, Hugo Ayala, Jesus Molina and Jesus Duenas carry more than 10 international caps of the 23-man squad. Mexican league-based players make up almost the squad. The exception is Houston Dynamo’s Erick Torres. Torres replaced Alan Pulido after he broke his arm during last week’s friendly against Paraguay.

Team USA will also exclude veterans including Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.

For Juan Agudelo, the Gold Cup will offer an opportunity to jump start his international career. A series of injuries and poor club team performances have left the 24-year-old forward on the periphery of Coach Bruce Arena’s potential World Cup roster.

“I would love to be coming off the bench in the World Cup or possibly even starting. I’m not looking to set my goals low,” Agudelo told ESPN in a recent interview.¬†

The 2017 Gold Cup champion will face the winner of the 2019 Gold Cup to determine who travels to the 2021 Confederations Cup. That tournament is set for Qatar.

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